As you know, our gear reviews aren’t sponsored. We get a lot of gear and, quite frankly, we test the hell out of stuff.
This year was no exception: we took gear on a cycling trips in downtown Toronto and Ottawa, as well as biking excursions in Washington (Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park in Issaquah and then on Galbraith Mountain in Bellingham). And while it’s true that some of the gear just didn’t make it, we found some things that we absolutely love — items that we know will be with you for a long, long time and many wild adventures.
We tested out a bunch of cycling gear, which were scored based on functionality, design, durability and innovation. You can sleep soundly knowing that this is the best cycling gear of 2015 that we tested:
When this bag first arrived, we were admittedly not excited. The bulky straps and Airstripes along the back made us wonder how this pack would fare on a cyclist in the city. We were wrong, and we’re sorry.
Turns out the Airstripes gently lift the pack to eliminate cycling back-sweat—an issue that plagues cyclists, and the Giga Bike’s shoulder multi-adjustable straps and hip belt comfortably hold the pack in place. After apologizing to the Deuter’s Giga Bike pack for our hasty misjudgement, this pack quickly became our top pick for daily schlepping.
What we loved: It makes a heavy load feel like nothing. Though it holds a whopping 28 litres (which we filled) and features a padded laptop compartment (which we also filled), you hardly notice the weight on your back. On lighter load days we used the side compression straps to synch the pack up to a smaller flatter size. It’s a cycling miracle.
The pack’s main compartment easily fits a day’s worth of gym clothes, shoes, and a packed lunch. The front compartment is absolutely kitted out with a larger storage pouch, organizer pocket for wallets and phones, and a clip so you can finally find your house keys. Oh, and there’s a rain cover and helmet holder to keep your hands free and dry.
If we could change one thing: Nothing—okay, maybe add a place to attach a rear bike light but this space is better used apologizing again for underestimating this thoughtful, durable cycling pack.
Rating: All the stars!
When I first started mountain biking several years ago, not only did I have to get used to riding over logs and roots and rocks, I had to get used to my saddle. After every ride, I was so bruised and sore. I really wish I had this chamois back then because the ones I owned barely provided any padding at all. I wore this Team DuVine chamois on a recent trip to Washington, first at Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park in Issaquah and then on Galbraith Mountain in Bellingham (after washing it, of course). Some of these trails provided some pretty gnarly, jarring bumps over the technical stuff, but I have to say, I didn’t feel them at all!
I’ve also been wearing the women’s club jersey. It’s comfortable and has the requisite back pockets for easy access to nutrition during a ride. No complaints here!
What we loved: The serious cushioning. This is my new favourite chamois. I’ll definitely be wearing it to my weekly spin classes over the winter where various drills have us standing up and down to “climb hills.” And, of course, it’s currently at the top of the pile for my mountain bike rides.
If we could change one thing: The extra seam before the bottom trim made me look a bit like a sausage, but I couldn’t feel it, and truth be told, I wear baggies over my chamois to mountain bike, so I don’t really care. And, I’ll rock it anyway in spin class because it’s so darned comfortable.
Ideal for: Long road rides, spin class (if you have a sensitive tush like I do), mountain biking.
Whether you’re cycling, camping, or picnicking, this is the liquid container to use. With double-walled insulation and a clamping, flip-top lid that prevents leaks, the stainless steel Miir Growler keeps liquids hot for up to 12 hours, and cold for over a full day. It’s also huge: 64oz holds a lot of beer, coffee, soup, or water for your group. For cyclists, you can purchase a cage and attach the growler to your bike.
By the way, for every growler sold, a portion is donated to building clean water wells.
What we loved: This growler keeps drinks chilled – for reals. During a beach trip, we found that our water stayed freezing cold, even after five hours of laying in the scorching hot sun.
If we could change one thing: Sticking this thing into a growler cage is a brilliant idea – in theory. It’s a gargantuan container, and I had a hard time riding with it attached to the down tube of my bike. Go with the smaller howler for your bike.
Ideal for: camping, multi-day bike trips
Patagonia Nine Trails Women’s Shorts (from $30) and Nine Trails Tank (from $18)
Lightweight and flexible, the Nine Trails shorts are made of a recycled blend of polyester and spandex blend that allows free movement. There’s also an odor-resistant built-in liner – helpful after getting to the top of those killer hills!
Ditto with the matching Nine Trails tank. The V-neck cut and Polygiene permanent odor control made this perfect for heavy-duty riding, while still looking smart.
What we loved: It’s ideal attire for sweat-inducing activities, thanks to the flimsy and odor resistant fabric. The shorts are water-resistant and fast drying. If the tank gets soaked in sweat, no biggie: it’s stink-proof.
If we could change one thing: The shorts are really short…almost like hot pants. It’s great at staying cool in the heat, but sometimes I was worried that I was, er, a bit overexposed.